Friday, April 24, 2009

Bittergourd Omelette

I like bittergourd but the family don't. I will take the opportunity to cook it when i have company who enjoys the bittergourd as much as i do. This dish must be Hakka cos strangely my friends who love them are Hakka.
There are 2 types of bittergourd, one which is long and the other is a smaller fruit which is very much bitter. In choosing a less bitter fruit, that is the bigger ones, choose one which is pale and has bigger bumps. .

1 bittergourd - cut into half and remove the seeds.
1 tsp salt
3 large eggs - beat lightly
1 clove garlic chopped
salt and pepper to taste
oil for frying

Slice the thinly and marinate with 1 tsp of salt. Leave aside for at least 10 minustes.
Squeeze the marinated sliced bittergourd, to remove as much liquid as possible.
Wash the bittergourd under tap water and drain dry.
Heat wok with 2 tbsp oil and when oil is hot, add in the chopped garlic and the bittergourd. Stir fry until bittergourd is cooked.
Add 1/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper to the beaten eggs.
Pour eggs over bittergourd and fry until eggs are set and brown.
Serve hot.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Braised Sea Cucumber

The Chinese name for sea cucumber - hai shen - translates roughly into "sea ginseng." It's unclear whether this is in recognition of the sea cucumber's reputation as an aphrodisiac, or because it is considered to be quite healthful. It may also have something to do with its slippery feel, as the texture of food weights more heavily in Chinese cooking than other cuisines. In any event, the Chinese have been harvesting sea cucumbers for centuries.
In Chinese medicine, sea cucumber has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat everything from high blood pressure in humans to joint pain in pot-bellied pigs!

Sea cucumber is flavorless, but has the ability to soak up the flavors of foods and seasonings it is cooked with, like this braise recipe which has very flavorful ingredients. These pre-conditioned sea cucumber can be found in the freeze of most asian store here and after this recipe, would not buy them again as they were so soft and disintergrated as soon as it got heated up. I would buy the dried ones and will pre-condition/rehydrate them myself.

1/2 tbsp. rice wine
2 stalks green onions
4 slices ginger
2 cups water

1 piece dried squid
1 lb pre-conditioned sea cucumbers - cut into 2 - 2 1/2 inch pieces
1 lb belly pork - cut into bite-size pieces
6 large Chinese black mushrooms - soaked woth warm water and discard stems
1/2 cup of chopped onion
6 slices ginger,
1 tsp. Shaoxing hua tiau rice wine
1/2 tsp. sesame oil

1 tbsp ground mein se/tau cheong
3 tbsps. soy sauce
1 tsp. sugar
3/4 cup stock

1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. water

Heat wok or pan and add 1 tbsp. oil. Add mixture (A) and stir-fry until fragrant.
Add 2 cups water and heat to boil. Add prepared sea cucumbers, cook for 3 minutes, then remove from heat and drain. Set mixture aside.

Heat pan and add 3 tbsps oil until very hot. Add chopped onion, ginger, mein see/tau cheong and stir-fry until fragrant.

Add in belly pork, squid, black mushrooms, stock and the rest of the seasonings. Add water enough to cover the pork and bring to a boil and then simmer covered until pork is tender and until the liquid is almost half of original amount.
Add the sea cucumber and bring back to a boil.

Add mixture (B) to thicken and lastly the wine. Adjust taste with salt and sugar.
Sprinkle with sesame oil before serving.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Three Cups Chicken/San Bei Ji

When i was asked if i had a recipe for San Bei Ji aka Three Cups Chicken, i had to search the Internet to find out why this dish is so called and found a very good read at Wikipedia and that this dish is an offering to Wen Tian Xiang.
Many explained that the dish is so called for the 3 cups each of sesame oil, soya sauce and wine used. To me, it is more of a ratio to the ingredients than the cup used to measure - imagine the taste, if i had cooked with my dear friend, Nellie's cups - she has the largest cups you can find at her home. Perhaps, the cup used to measure in the original recipe could be the chinese wine cups which is about 1/3 cup - US measures.


1/3 cup sesame oil
1 whole bulb garlic - peeled and minced
10 slices thin fresh ginger
2 serrano peppers, thinly sliced with seeds
2 lbs bone-in chicken pieces
1/3 cup soya sauce
1/3 cup shaoxing hua tiau wine
3 tablespoons sugar
2 cups thai basil
1 cup of 1-inch sections scallion


Heat up the sesame oil in a wok or a large skillet on high heat. Brown the chicken pieces, remove the browned chicken and set aside.

Add garlic, ginger and serrano peppers to the sesame oil, stir fry until fragrant.

Return the chicken pieces and stir in the soy sauce, rice wine and sugar.

Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to low.

Let cook, uncovered, until sauce thickens, about 30 minutes.

Turn heat back up to high and add basil and scallions. Stir to combine.

Serve over steamed rice.


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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

This cake is from watching Julia Childs - Lessons with Master Chefs and the Master Chef is Jim Dodge. The recipe is easy to follow and the cake turned out wonderful , really very delicious and everyone's favorite.

For the Cake:
1/2 cup buttermilk
4 ozs butter - cut into small pieces
1/3 cup dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 cup sugar (1/2 cup for mixing with the cocoa powder and 1/2 cup for whisking egg whites)(for friends in The Mile High City of Denver - take away 1 tbsp)
1 tsp baking soda(for friendds in The Mile High City of Denver - use only 3/4 tsp)
5 large eggs separated
1 cup cake flour (for friends in The Mile High City of Denver, add 2 tbsp flour)
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Chocolate Fudge:
1 1/2 cups sugar(i would like to suggest 1 1/4 cups)
2/3 cups water
1/4 cup corn syrup
8 ozs chilled butter - cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 ozs buttersweet chocolate
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the cake:
Preheat oven at 325f and grease 2 - 8 inch bottom lined cake pans - dust with flour.
Melt buttermilk and butter at very low heat - 100 f.
Mix cocoa powder with the sugar, stir to break up the cocoa powder, then add in the baking soda.
Pour the hot buttermilk/butter mixture and stir to melt the sugar.
Whisk egg whites on high speed and when it is foamy, add in the sugar at the side of mixer bowl and whisk till MORE than SOFT PEAKS.
Add vanilla extract and the lightly beatened egg yolks to the Cocoa/buttermilk mixture .
Add in the flour and stir with a whisk to combine.
With a large spatula, fold in the egg whites (wrap the bottom and tap the spatula to loosen the mixture that is stuck to it)
Divide the batter into the 2 prepared cake pans and bake for 30 mins.
Check for doneness.
Remove from oven and leave in cake pan for 5 mins before removing the cake pan. Leave cake to cool on rack.
For the Chocolate Fudge:
Mix the sugar, water and corn syrup in a large bowl and give it a good whisking before transfering mixture into saucepan.(for friends in Denver, cover the saucepan, let sugar come to a boil for a few minutes before removing lid)
Cook on medium heat until sugar reaches 235f =, by now it should have less big bubbles and a tinge of yellow.
Pour hot sugar into a mixer bowl and Whip on high to cool slightly.
Add in 1 piece chilled butter at the time - the chill butter will cool mixture.
Melt chocolate in the microwave and stir to melt.
Add melted chocolate to butter/sugar mixture, then add vanilla extract.
Stir to combine and fudge is ready.
To assemble the cake:
Slice the cakes into halves.
Place one slice of cake on a cake platter and top with 3 - 4 tbsp of fudge. Spread fudge to the edge of cake and top with another slice.
Repeat process and on the last slice, pour all the fudge on top and spread to edge and sides.


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Monday, April 20, 2009

Lo Soi Duck

A simple preparation, transformed into a classic treasure by the 'lo soi' which is a stock-sauce or mother sauce, once made, may be kept and used indefinitely, over and over, through the years, replenished by the poultry and . seasonings that are cooked in it. This duck dish has a deep and intense flavor and is an enjoyable meal.

Mother Sauce:

3 pieces of cinnamon sticks - 3" long
3 pieces eight-star anise
3/4 tsp sichuan peppercorns
3/4 tsp whole cloves
2 tsps fennel seeds
1 whole nutmeg
8 pieces licorice root
1 piece fresh ginger - 3" long, lightly smashed
4 pieces galangal 2" long, lightly smashed
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock
1 1/2 quarts cold water
2 1/2 cups thick dark soya sauce
1 1/2 cups light soya sauce
1/4 cup Mui Kwai/Rose Wine
1 lb rock sugar

1 duck - 5 pounds or more


To make the mother sauce:
Wrap all the spices, from cinnamon to galangal, in cheesecloth and sew close.
In a large, covered stockpot, bring the water, chicken,spice package and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat, leave the lid cracked, and simmer for 3 hours.
Add the soya sauces, rose wine and rock sugar and raise the heat back to high and bring to a boil. Stir to make certain all ingredients are blended and the sugar is dissolved.
The sauce is ready for use.
To cook the duck with the mother sauce:

Place a rack at the bottom of a large pot. Place the duck on the rack. Pour in the mother sauce. The duck should be completely immersed. Cover the pot, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, leave the lid cracked, and simmer for `1 3/4 to 2 hours, turning the duck 2 or 3 times.
Turn off the heat and cover the pot. Allow the duck to rest in the liquid for 30 minutes. Remove the duck, cut into bite-sized pieces and serve warm.

A chicken may be cooked in this as well, with no alteration of the recipe and tofu or hard-boiled eggs can be steeped in this sauce too.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Salt Baked Cornish Hen

Sara Gibbs, this recipe is especially for you. Sara is a research assistant for a food writer. Her name is Molly O'Neill and she is working on a cookbook that will be a collection of recipes from home cooks. She hopes to celebrate the "glorious amateur." I hope that this recipe and Salt Steamed Chicken meet with Molly's satisfaction to appear in her new book.


One Cornish Hen, rinsed and patted dry
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
2 quarter-size slices of fresh ginger, lightly smashed
1 spring onion, lightly smashed and cut into 1 1/2 -inch lengths
3 cilantro sprigs, plus additional cilantro leaves for garnish
1 star anise pod
1 tbsp Rose Dew Liqueur or extra-dry vermouth
4 1/2 pounds sea salt
Rub the cavity of the cornish hen with the rice wine and stuff with the ginger, scallions, cilantro sprigs and star anise.

Place the cornish hen, breast up, on a rack and brush the outside with the liqueur.

Let the chicken stand in a cool, airy place or place in the refridgerator uncovered, until the skin is dry to the touch, about 2 hours.

Truss the chicken with string. Wrap the chicken in a single layer of greased parchment paper; bring the ends around and fold them together on top of the breast to secure into a parcel. The cornish hen should be tightly wrapped in a neat parcel.

Pour the salt into a large corningware casserole or spun-steel wok that will hold the cornish hen snugly.

Turn the heat to moderately high and stir the salt frequently until it is very hot to the touch, about 10 minutes.

Carefully pour the salt into a heatproof bowl.about 1 inch from the bottom of bowl.   Set the parcel snugly on top of the salt, breast up, and cover completely with the reserved hot salt.

Cover the corningware casserole, transfer to cook in the microwave on high for 1/2 hour or alternatively, cook on the stovetop on moderate heat for 1 hour.

Check for doneness by brushing off the salt, open the parcel(be very  careful, chicken will be hot) and piercing a thigh with a sharp knife. If the juices are still pink,re wrap the parcel and re-cover with salt,  continue to cook for another 15 to 30 minutes.

Push the salt aside and carefully remove the cornish hen from the parchment paper, try not to tilt the chicken and spill the juices. Set the chicken on a large platter and remove trussing strings. Cut the cornish hen in half or use a cleaver to chop it Chinese-style into bite-size pieces.
Serve hot or at room temperature, garnished with cilantro leaves.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pipa Tofu

I love tofu in any form but for those who claim that they hate tofu have a tendency to like this dish which features oval shaped tofu balls. These balls are so called as the shape resembles the "Pipa", a chinese musical instrument. Usually, these balls are deeped fried but i prefer this healthier steamed version. These pictures were taken ahead before the sauce was poured over cos i knew that i will not have the opportunity to take pictures as there were guests present for dinner.


1 block tofu
1/4 lb shrimp
1/4 lb ground pork
3 - 4 shitake mushroom - soak and chop fine
2 stalks spring onions - chop fine
1 small carrot, chop fine
2 eggs
1 T. cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp sesame oil

1 tbsp soya sauce
1 cup stock
1 tbsp cornstarch paste mix with 1 tbsp water
salt to taste


1. Drain the tofu and mash it up in a bowl.
2. Wash and peel the shrimp, then throw it in a food processor. Chop it up until you’ve got a sort of pasty consistency. Add the shrimp to the tofu and the rest of the ingredients. Mix well to combine.
3. Grease several chinese soup spoons and fill them with the tofu mixture.
4. Steam the tofu mixture until cooked. Let cool before removing from spoons and place on a platter.
5. Heat stock and soya sauce and when it comes to the boil, add the cornstarch solution and cook until it is cooked through. Adjust taste with salt
6. Pour over steamed tofu and serve hot.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Ban Jian Kuih II

I have been pondering for many awhile that the Ban Jian Kuih sellers in Malaysia definitely did not use buttermilk and that their recipe should only contain ingredients that are readily available there. So, i have to tweak again using what i think should be the ingredients used. I added baking powder and increased the amount to the potassium carbonate & sodium bi-carbonate solution and did not add the bicarbonate of soda until the last minute as i have read that bicarbonate of soda will loose it potency over time

100 g all purpose flour
25 g rice flour
1 tsp double action baking powder
1/2 tsp potassium carbonate & sodium bi-carbonate solution
1/4 tsp salt
50 g sugar
160 ml water
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Filling :
100 g chopped roasted peanuts)
80 g castor sugar ) Mix together
2 tbsp Margarine cut into small pieces

Mix all the ingredients except the bicarbonate of soda , into a batter and leave aside covered, to rest for at least 30 minutes.
Lightly grease an apam pan(if available) or a 8 inch nonstick frying pan and heat it over a medium low flame.
Add bicarbonate of soda to the batter and mix well.
Pour in all the batter and using the base of the scoop/ladle , spread the batter evenly around and to the sides of the pan.
Cover pan.
When bubbles are seen on the surface of the half cooked batter, sprinkle a handful of filling over.
Spread the pieces of margarine all over the filling.
Cover the apam and cook further for half a minute.
Remove the cover and use a flat-bladed knife/spatula to release the sides and bottom of the apam and fold into half.
Cool before cutting into wedges.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Fried Udon

I have been so behind in everything and have to prepare a quick and easy lunch for my guests who came all the way from Melbourne, Australia. This noodle dish has never failed time and again to provide a delicious platter for any occasion.

1 pound fresh udon noodles
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 cup each of julienned green, red and yellow pepper
1 tbsp chopped garlic
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp light soya sauce
3 tbsp oil
salt and pepper to taste
Sesame oil


Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a rolling boil over high heat. Cook the noodles for 2 to 4 minutes, stirring to separate the strands, until they are tender but not mushy.
Heat oil and brown the ground pork. Then add in chopped garlic and the julienned peppers, mix well.
Drain the noodles and add in to the ground pork and pepper mixture. Add in oyster sauce and soya sauce. Stir-fry until noodles are heat through and adjust the taste with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle with sesame oil before serving.
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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Soya Bean Sprouts and Ground Pork

I do not have many ways to cook these soya beans sprouts. It will usually be a stir-fry or make a clear soup. My siblings and I used to love how my mom cooked this dish by chopping up the bean sprouts but my son-in-law prefers it non-chopped.

1 lb soya bean sprouts - wash and drain
1/2 lb ground pork
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/4 cup spring onions
3 tbsp oil
pepper and salt to taste
seseame oil

Heat wok and add in ground pork to brown.
Add in garlic and oil. Saute until well mixed.
Add in soya bean sprouts and a little water. Bring to the boil and simmer with lid on.
Add fish sauce and adjust taste with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle with sesame oil and serve hot with white rice

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Saturday, April 04, 2009

Zhajiang Mein/Jajangmyun

Korea has a fun tradition for all those preparing for "April Love". The tradition goes as follows, on Feburary 14th, Koreans celebrate Red day. Although similar to Valentine's Day, there are some specific guidelines one must follow on Red Day, namely, only the women give Valentine's to the men. This is significant, because Korea is a male dominated society and this allows for the women to be assertive in dating and for it to be acceptable. In fact it's quite competitive as to who got what from whom.
The next month on March 14th is White Day, when the men give gifts to women. If the man likes the woman sender, then he must return the favor by giving the woman chocolate, candy, flowers, etc. Girls are very competitve also as to who go what-the bigger, the better follows here.
Finally, just as spring is really in full bloom it's time for Black Day. On Black day, all those men and women who did not receive anything go out and eat Jaja Myun (Black noodles). It is a noodle dish with a tasty dark (black) sauce served on top. The idea is that, all those that didn't receive anything can mingle together and hopefully next year they will be sending gifts on Red and White Day. When it comes to the dating game Korea has many options as to how to go about it. This is only one of them. I hope you all get to experience this and hopefully won't have to eat Jaja Myun, but if you do, it's a really good dish!
This is my version of the Black Noodle which i made a black gravy/sauce like Jajangmyun and the toppings of ground pork, onions, cucumber which is like the chinese - Zhajiang Mein


1 pkt of wheat noodle of choice(follow instruction to cook from the back of pack)

1 lb Gound Pork
2 tsp shaoxing wine
2 tbsp light soya sauce
1/4 cup chopped garlic
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
3 tbsp oil
1 onion - cut into bite-size
1 cucumber - cubed - center removed
1 small carrot - cubed
1 tbsp oil
salt and pepper to taste
Chopped spring onions for garnishing
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1/4 cup chopped garlic
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 tbsp Lee Kum Kee Black bean garlic sauce
2 tbsp Hoisin sauce
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp corn syrup
2 tbsp shaoxing rice wine
2 tbsp Thick Caramerl Sauce - Yuen Chun Longivity Brand
2 tbsp oil
2 cups water
2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp water

Preheat wok and add in oil.
Add in the ground pork and cook it until it is no more pink, then add in the garlic, soya sauce, wine and pepper. Remove and set aside.
Heat oil and add in onions, saute, then add in salt and pepper. Cook until the onions are sweat through. Add in the carrot and cucumber , stir fry, adding a little more salt and pepper. Remove and set aside.
To make the gravy:
Heat oil and fry the shallots, then add in the ginger and garlic. Add in the remaining ingredients except the cornstarch solution. When the gravy/sauce comes to the boil, then add in the cornstarch solution. Bring the gravy/sauce to the boil and it has thickened. Adjust taste as desired.
To serve:
Put noodles in a bowl, then top with gravy/sauce. Spoon in some ground pork and toppings.
Sprinkle in chopped spring onions and enjoy.

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Thursday, April 02, 2009


It is strange that i have not eaten this snack before and as my friend in Singapore told me, it is very popular there. This recipe turned out good, soft in the middle and crunchy on the outside.


600 g all purpose flour
150 g Starter
250 g sugar

300 g water
1/2 tsp potassium carbonate & sodium bi-carbonate solution aka kan sui
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp double action baking powder

1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp sugar
60 ml water

2 tbsp sesame seeds
Oil for deep frying

65 g all-purpose flour
100 ml water
1 tsp instant yeast
Mix all the ingredients and let to rise for 1 - 2 hours.
Mix B and stir until dissolved.
Mix A and stir in B solution and knead into a dough. Cover dough and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Add more flour if dough is too sticky and let dough rest for another hour.
Mix ingredients C.
Heat oil for deep frying.
Remove dough onto to a heavily floured board and cut dough into 2 portions.
Roll one portion into a long rectangle - 1/2 inch thick.
Brush solution C onto top of rectangle and sprinkle on the sesame seeds.
Cut rectangle into 1 1/2 inch pieces and cut one slit on the top and one slit on the bottom.
Fry butterflies in moderately hot oil - 350f until they are golden brown.

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Pinto Bean Soup

Pinto beans are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, as are most other beans. In addition to lowering cholesterol, pinto beans' high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making these beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia. When combined with whole grains such as brown rice, pinto beans provide virtually fat-free, high quality protein. But this is far from all pinto beans have to offer. Pinto beans are also an excellent source of molybdenum, a very good source of folate and manganese, and a good source of protein and vitamin B1 as well as the minerals phosphorus, iron, magnesium, potassium, and copper. With these good info on Pinto beans, how not to make soup with them.


1/2 lb dried pinto beans - soak preferably overnight

2 lbs ham bones

a handful of pitted red dates

5 - 6 dried shitake mushrooms - soak and squeezed dry

1 piece kombu - 5 inch square(approx)


Put all the ingredients in the pressure cooker and put in enough water to cover all the ingredients.

Pressurized for 30 minutes and when the pressure is totally released. Open the pressure cooker lid and add in more water.

Bring the soup back to the boil and adjust the taste with salt and pepper.


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